IMAGINEERING: Disneyland and Suburbanism
written by Steven Mark Klein
“The cultural alchemy of Marcel Duchamp has been superseded by the sorcery of Mickey Mouse.”
Disneyland, Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, opened on July 17, 1955. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney died in 1966. Walt Disney World theme park and resort opened on October 1, 1971. In 1983 Disneyland Tokyo opened in Japan. In 1992 Disneyland Paris or “EuroDisney” opened in Marne-la-Vallée. Disneyland Hong Kong opened in September 2005. Shanghai Disneyland opened on June 16, 2016. The park is part of Shanghai Disney Resort and is operated by Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, which is a business segment of The Walt Disney Company consisting of its theme parks and resorts, cruise line, vacation club, hotels, stores, merchandising, publishing and digital media, games and interactive experiences, and The Muppets Studio. It was formed in March 2018 as part of a strategic reorganization.
“Today, 63 years later, Disneyland has become a cultural phenomenon. Walt Disney’s legacy still lives on in the magical world he created.” The Walt Disney Company
Disney Imagineering Research and Development, Inc. is the arm of The Walt Disney Company, responsible for the creation, design, and construction of Disney theme parks and attractions worldwide. Founded  by Walt Disney to oversee the production of Disneyland, it was originally known as Walt Disney, Incorporated, then WED Enterprises, formed from the initials meaning “Walter Elias Disney,” the company founder’s full name. WDI headquarters is in Glendale, California
The term imagineering, a portmanteau, was introduced in the 1940’s by Alcoa to describe its blending of imagination and engineering, and used by Union Carbide in an in-house magazine in 1957, with an article by Richard F. Sailer titled “BRAINSTORMING IS IMAGination engINEERING.” Disney filed for a copyright for the term in 1967, claiming first use of the term in 1962. Imagineering is a registered trademark of The Walt Disney Company. Imagineering projects are currently planned to 2023 and a few beyond that, a Star Wars Hotel for Walt Disney World. The logo for WDI is Mickey Mouse as the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” wearing a wizard’s hat and wand in hand which became the 1940 animated feature “Fantasia.”
“Fantasy and reality often overlap.” Walt Disney
SUBURBANISM: The Soft-Carpeted World is how I describe the merging of social-media based and driven “cultural” data and the Silicon Valley owners of those platforms. I would like to posit that Walt Disney and his vision for the building of the first Disneyland is the origin story for the corporate goals, products, strategies, and master planned campuses of Apple, Facebook/Instagram, and Google.
Since the late 1940’s American corporations have been in the business of imagination engineering. Walt Disney grasped that powerful concept and built it into the underlying structure of his corporation, with the perfect expression and ongoing experiment he called Disneyland. The suburban, which was rural land before development, has implied from its beginnings a community which was dull, boring, uninteresting, conventional, ordinary, unremarkable, and unexceptional.
Disneyland was unique in that it used all available advanced technology designed by suburban based technologists to control the experiences and thoughts of other suburbanites. I think from its beginnings Disney is a data and experience virus. I would categorize that propaganda algorithm as W1D1 [Walt Disney] with the malware version titled M1M1, the code for the Mickey Mouse cultural virus. The Mickey Mouse virus was created to cast a spell of false happiness.
This enchantment state leads to an infantile life journey for millions at its inception, but with social platforms now globally in place, billions are now under its spell. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are all students of Walt Disney. Their algorithms are all versions of Mickey Mouse. They are artificial constructs made to replace the emotional/physical pain of unmediated existence with the illusion of mediated bliss. As the original suburban planners envisioned and organized, life becomes a place defined as community where all data is algorithmically structured to remove painful ideas, painful thoughts, painful relationships, painful experiences.
The world becomes a digital kindergarten classroom looked over by a KINDERGARTEN COP. There are incredible benefits from Silicon Valley’s innovations, but their world, comprised of billions of “Likes” and “Search” based consensus, rather than searching for information and the meaning that information can illuminate, has proven to be a living hell. That “mindless” [in contrast to mindful] existence is created by removing the symbolism from information and leaving the emptiness of pure form. Algorithms and the malware it generates inherently removes depth of meaning and leaves an empty informational desert. Flat, featureless, and unless one is a zen trained monk, a world defined with a single word: bore.
As a visualization exercise let’s look at influential American families since the 1950’s. Since Kim Kardashian visited the Oval Office on May 30, 2018 to meet with President Trump, I think a politically influential family viewed against the Calabasian clique is in order. The Kennedy’s were conceived in a Pre-Disneyland world, built on very dark circumstances, but driven by an idealism completely lacking in today’s socio-political Twittersphere. The Kardashian-Jenner clique is also built on dark circumstances, porn and murder, but firstly, they were created by the Disneyfication of data, fame, influence, and money that Silicon Valley has created and were the perfect family to control the Like/Search culture, devoid of informational depth and emotionally bankrupt.
At this point I will introduce another virus that has contributed to the Disney narrative; Andy Warhol. He created the A1W1 cultural virus:
“Beauty is a sign of intelligence.” X “I like boring things.”
Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory becomes Kris Jenner’s house on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Paris Hilton’s “1 Night in Paris” was the “one” and Kim K’s celebrity sex tape was the “zero” that generated the 0101TMZ010101010101ANDYCOHEN0101 refinement of the A1W1 virus. Disneyland became Apple Park “1 Infinite Loop” in the California suburb of Cupertino. Walt chose Anaheim, Steve chose Cupertino. Kris chose Calabasas.
Time to loop back to Suburbanism: The Soft-Carpeted World. An element in that theory is that a Disney-less world of ’60’s/’70’s SoHo/NYC generated the ideas and thought processes of the creative class at the time. Independent stratagems were the generative codes. Once Andy Warhol arrived with his love of Suburbanist Hollywood, in particular Walt and his alter-ego Mickey Mouse, the current definition of culture began. The objective is to just be in the data flow. To endlessly connect throughout multiple networks of other data flows with no meaning or purpose beyond being visible. Imagination engineering is built on mathematics.
Disney built a global empire of identity control through mathematically structured algorithms which were created to remove all unmediated experience. He had a clear vision of suburban based control and surveillance that he manifested in a series of “characters” which he could control. Those characters replaced the goal of a rich and complicated evolution to adulthood and death with a perfect “Kingdom” devoid of adult pain and a timeless existence without any thoughts of death or truly experienced emotional pain. No one ever needs to grow up. Every beauty finds everlasting happiness.
All you have to do is what Justin Timberlake did and Britney Spears did and Ryan Gosling did and Christina Aguilera did and Keri Russell did and Selena Gomez did: utter the magic algorithm: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. This magic incantation transformed into a series of algorithms that have altered the cultural process permanently. Disney Corporation is on a clear mission to control all the effective narratives created in the 20th Century in order to turn those entertainments into the globalized consumerist definition of culture we are all now experiencing.
When you combine the W1D1 [Walt Disney] virus with the A1W1 [Andy Warhol] virus, a powerful malware is created. That malware has forever altered the world’s [especially youth and young adults] definition of the words art, artist, and culture. The virus created a definition where Kim Kardashian is an artist and sneakers are now framed as a culture. From HBO’s WESTWORLD to the recent movie GHOST IN THE SHELL, the final wisdom can be summed up by another Post-Human agent, Joi, in Blade Runner 2049,
“Mere data makes a man. A and C and T and G. The alphabet of you. All from four symbols. I am only two: 1 and 0.”
-K’s [Ryan Gosling] response “Half as much, but twice as elegant, sweetheart.”
Infinity Loop: A code communicates to another code the malware that is not a code but human. That code then discovers that it is also only code.
Entertainment Complex: Walt Disney and the Disney family are at the very core of the founding and the existence of CalArts. The founding board of trustees originally planned on creating CalArts as a school in an entertainment complex, a destination like Disneyland. During the same time period, in the 1960’s in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, an idea complex had formed. In the 1970’s a group of CalArts students arrived in New York, including David Salle and most importantly Jack Goldstein. Jack was at the center of the “Pictures Generation” of artists. Jack, through his relationship with Helene Winer, brought the SoCal suburban Disney cultural virus east and introduced the code that transformed the global objective of advanced art from an exploration of human consciousness, an invisible and silent process, to a product that mirrors and eventually becomes mass media.
Jack makes the film loop titled “METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER” [virus code: M-G-M] The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion tosses its head back and growls on a continuous loop for two minutes. The virus introduced Hollywood’s combination of magic, convention, and shallow spectacle to the New York cultural scene. Helene Winer was the director of Artist’s Space when the exhibition “Pictures” opened in 1977. In 1980 Helene with Janelle Reiring [Castelli Gallery] opens Metro Pictures Gallery with the work of Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Richard Prince and Jack Goldstein.
To quote from the original “Pictures” statement “It is the representation freed from the tyranny of the represented.” The Suburbanist code of image with no meaning was excited as a reproduction [FAKE] at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. The STAR WARS mythology was created at Lucasfilm, which is now wholly owned by Disney. There have been 13 versions of this Suburbanist cultural code already created and more planned. This endless narrative re-cycling is the at the core of the “Pictures” virus that Disney-CalArts created, which eventually infected the cultural code of 1970’s Soho. That cultural infection has continued to expand in plague like manner.
By introducing the code that questions aesthetic originality and authenticity and using the strategies and imagery of popular culture and mass media and now Social-Media, the culture industries can with no irony Object Label Kim Kardashian as an artist. K-Pop which is a variant of the Disney Suburbanist Mouseketeers code has in recent weeks entered the Billboard 100 albums and singles charts. Disney World and art world have forever merged.
The objectives of seduction and desire which consumerism is based upon have replaced the individual’s search for consciousness [010101CindySherman0101LouisVuittion010101RichardPrince010101LouisVuitton] The advanced culture that developed in SoHo in the 1960’s and 1970’s was cause created and motivated. In 2018 and beyond, art is defined by the world’s youth and young adults by the “artist” KAWS. When a pair of sneakers is collected and discussed as a work of “art” and the people who develop and distribute these consumer products as cultural statements, the ideas of Marcel Duchamp have been forever replaced by the imagination engineering of M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. The streets South of Houston [NYC] have been superseded by a series of interlinked Main Streets.
“The art world is now controlled by the dark side of the Force.”